Parklets are a quick and cheap way to improve urban streets. They provide new places to sit and relax, plus add more greenery to the concrete jungle.
Parklets started in 2005 in San Francisco. An urban design group called Rebar converted two car parking bays into the first parklet. They laid down some turf, placed a tree and chair on it and created a mini-oasis in the concrete jungle for 2 days; which was the maximum allowable length of time of the parking meter (yes, they had to pay normal car parking fees – effectively renting the car parking spaces). The idea spread rapidly online and became known as ‘Park(ing) Day’. It is now an annual international event.
The first parklet in San Francisco
By 2012, San Francisco had 49 parklets and mobile parklets. Yes, there are even parklets that can be moved.
Mobile parklet, San Francisco
There are now –
Even parklets in Adelaide –
The key to creating vibrant, safer and more successful public spaces is to attract more people. The best way of attracting more people is by making our streets greener, more interesting and more comfortable. Parklets are a simple, cheap and fast to deliver these outcomes.
Streets have not been treated as social spaces in recent decades. Instead, we almost entirely surrendered public thoroughfares to car use. Streets have been seen as dirty, dangerous and unhealthy. We wanted to keep our kids “off the street”.
Parklets are both practical – they offer new spaces to relax, meet friends and people-watch, and symbolic, in that they often return space formerly dedicated to cars back to people.
But parklets could also be much more. There are interesting opportunities for parklets to be both social spaces and serve environmental functions.
Parklets could also provide new biodiversity hotspots and even local food sources.
Read more about a DIY parklet made by locals in Perth – https://betterbeaufort.com.au/2014/05/13/creating-new-places-to-sit-parklets/
There has also been research in to the success of parklets in the United States – www.citylab.com/design
The parklet revolution is just beginning. They are only small spaces, but parklets offer massive potential.